Cebu LGUs Cautioned against Waste-to-Energy Incinerators (Stakeholders Tackle Technology Options on Waste Management)

Cebu City.  Some 50
representatives of various local government units (LGUs) in Cebu province,
Office of the Environmental Ombudsman-Visayas, as well as environmental and
health advocates from the civil society today converged at the Cebu Provincial
Capitol to critically look at waste-to-energy (WtE) incineration schemes that
have penetrated the country, including Cebu.

The multi-stakeholder forum was initiated by the Cebu-based Philippine Earth
Justice Center (PEJC), Freedom From Debt Coalition-Cebu, the Quezon City-based
EcoWaste Coalition and local partners to increase awareness and support for low
cost, ecological and sustainable non-burn technologies that will support and
protect the incineration ban under the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act
(RA 9003) and the Clean Air Act (RA 8749), which is being threatened by
regressive legislative bills and WtE schemes.

Lawyer Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, PEJC Co-Trustee and Co-Founder, specifically
mentioned House Bill 3161 filed by Caloocan 2nd District Rep. Edgar Erice,
which seeks to amend Section 20 of the Clean Air Act to allow the use of incinerators
to burn municipal, bio-medical and hazardous wastes.

“This is downright regression reflecting the government’s utter lack of political
will and its obsession with quick fixes instead of genuinely enforcing our
progressive environmental policies,” she said.

“If only firmly and correctly enforced, RA 9003 could efficiently reduce the
volume and toxicity of waste and tone down, if not reverse, prevailing throw‐away
mentality.  Instead of lifting the incineration ban and opting for quick
fixes, the government should strengthen the enforcement of the ban, including
increasing penalties for non-performing officials and violators,” she said.

Aside from seeking support against regressive policy measures, she cautioned
LGUs against embracing WtE hook, line and sinker, warning that such projects
might only exacerbate the province’s battle with garbage and pollution, aside
from violating existing laws.

Visiting toxics policy expert Lee Bell from Australia echoed Ramos’ statement,
maintaining that “the people of the Philippines should be proud of their laws
banning waste incineration and should be cautious against deceptive WtE

“The incineration ban gives your country a chance to leap frog expensive and
polluting incinerator technologies and move toward zero waste practices and a
sustainable society. It would be a backward step to reverse these laws,” added

“There are much better ways to maximize recovery of resources from waste while
saving energy, improving agriculture and creating jobs than to lock your county
into decades of waste incineration,” explained Bell.

“Many developed countries fell into this trap and are now struggling to break
free of it. The Philippines is in a unique position to avoid the dead-end waste
policy of incineration and move rapidly to a more competitive and sustainable
society through zero waste practices,” he added.

The EcoWaste Coalition has invited Lee Bell of Western Australia to share his
scientific and technical expertise and campaigning experience on waste-to-energy,
incineration and other pollution issues in a series of fora and meetings from March 4 to 7 in Cebu and Quezon Cities.